Climate variability and agricultural productivity in Uganda

Peter Babyenda, Jane Kabubo-Mariara & Sule Odhiambo

Uganda’s climate is changing in terms of rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns, leading to extreme meteorological conditions such as prolonged drought, floods and landslides. Yet the majority (68%) of Ugandans rely largely on rain-fed agriculture, which is affected by climate variability. This study therefore investigates the effect of climate variability on agricultural productivity in Uganda by combining long-term climate data, sourced from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and six waves of the Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) spanning the period 2009 to 2019. Trends and the regression analysis estimated with panel data confirm the existence of climate variability, as well as the vulnerability of farming households across Uganda. The empirical results indicate a significant U-shaped impact of precipitation variability on agricultural productivity. This tends to suggest that, as variability in precipitation intensifies, farming households will adapt to the changing precipitation and thereby improve their productivity. The regional and crop-specific analysis show that, relative to other regions of the country, Eastern Uganda is likely to be the region affected the most, while beans and
banana are likely to be affected more by climate variability compared to other crops such as maize and cassava. The study thus recommends measures aimed at encouraging farmers to adapt and increase agricultural productivity. There is a need to strengthen the provision of extension services and inform farmers about climate variability.